1950s


Princeton vs. Yale, 1955

It’s kind of funny to think that standards of dress for a football game half a century ago were higher than for much of corporate America today. Several shots of the crowd reveal all the requisite gear: natural shoulders, buttondown collars, rep ties, short haircuts, and crewneck sweaters worn high in the front. — CC


Ivy Jukebox: White Bucks and Saddle Shoes

We’ve previously written on how the Ivy League Look was the perfect garb to gain approval from a girl’s father. Even though a boy had wolfish intentions, in white bucks and a crew cut he might convince her parents to let her stay out past 10. Now here’s a tune that makes the same case:


Boyfriend Jacket: The Vassar Girl and the Ivy League Look

When Marilyn Monroe steps onto the screen in “Some Like It Hot,” wearing elaborate furs and gowns, her soft blond curls swept into an elegant chignon, she spends much of her time pretending to be a wealthy, well-to-do Vassar student. She is a classic example of Hollywood’s vision of the Vassar Girl: the stereotypical rich,


Slim Down Your Overcoat

If you’re already planning on a new overcoat for this season, you might want to slim down. That is, with the cut of the coat. That’s according to this vintage advertisement from Hickey Freeman, which advocates “comfort and natural lines” with “lapels narrow to emphasize smartness.” Finally, “shoulders are normal,” because abnormal shoulders are so


The Bucks Stop Here

This weekend marks the end of summer, and therefore the end of white-bucks season Unless  you’re Pat Boone, who, like college men in the ’30s, wore his year-round. His above collection is from 1959. Go here for a CBS News slideshow on the clean cut idol, who in mid-life made a heavy metal album.


HSM Archives Finale: A Youthful Look of Slim Straightness

When I first moved to New York in late 2009 the Hartmarx Corporation gave me a couple of private views of their advertising archives. These are the last images I was able to grab. They date from the 1950s and document the trend in menswear to the natural-shouldered look. The final document has a nice breakdown


Engineered Garments: MIT’s Class of ’56

Students in science and technology today aren’t exactly known for their style (then again, what students are?) But in 1956, MIT’s graduating class of 900 was better dressed than just about any random group of 900 people you could find anywhere today. There are also some real characters in there. Perhaps you need the poster


HSM Archives: The Suit that Fits to a Tea

Previously we’ve posted on the 1956 prep-school angst film “Tea and Sympathy.” Here’s an image from the Hart, Schaffner & Marx archives, undated but from roughly the same time. Call this one Tea and Approval. The older gent is obviously the girl’s father, and clearly approves of her suitor’s suit. And here’s an interesting tribute


X Marx the Spot: The Treasure of the HSM Archives

As we make our way through the Ivy Style archives, I see that this post originally ran on my 40th birthday. Having just arrived in New York (that’s right, life really does begin again at 40), this was one of my first appointments. * * * Recently I was invited to Hickey Freeman on New


College Miscellany II

Some various images from the LIFE archives. First up are several shots from Bowdoin College in Maine. Above, 1952; below, 1957: No date on these three Bowdoin shots. The one below looks like a good starting point for a Ralph Lauren Home collection inspired by a ’50s college dorm room: Moving on, freshman class arriving at


Tea and Sympathy, 1956

“Tea and Sympathy” is one of the books on the reading list featured in “The Official Preppy Handbook.” Written by Robert Anderson for the stage, it was adapted for the screen in 1956 with Vincente Minnelli at the helm. “Tea and Sympathy” is set at a boys’ prep school, where sensitive Tom Lee (played by John Kerr)


Natural Style: Dartmouth in the ’40s & ’50s

A tour of Dartmouth College’s library in the 1950s, shown in the top video, sheds light on the school’s lifestyle and sartorial history. Male students seen hard at work wearing sweaters, flannels and thick trousers highlight two things: The lack of female students and a clear fashion sense unique to the college. Dartmouth did not


Disgrace Under Pressure: Alger Hiss at Princeton

In 1954, after serving 44 months of a 10-year sentence, convicted perjurer and alleged Communist spy Alger Hiss set out to exonerate himself. Accusations against Hiss first surfaced in 1948, when Whittaker Chambers testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee that Hiss had acted as a courier for an underground Communist network operating in Washington


Poetic Injustice

Before his untimely death, few men of letters embodied the jazz-fueled cool of midcentury New York better than poet Frank O’Hara. The Whitman of the modern urban landscape, O’Hara captured the essence of the city, its multitudes, and its motions of constant speed punctuated with moments of stillness. Heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and jazz, his


Diddley Squat

This year marks the 60th anniversary of one of the greatest contributions by the state of Arkansas to the American way of life. In 1959, fraternity brothers at the University of Arkansas were suffering from a shortage of chairs. In protest, they took to “hunkering,” or squatting, or what you might call Ozark yoga. It’s


Man of Taste

In 1954, culture critic Russell Lynes published “The Tastemakers: The Shaping of American Popular Taste,” a lengthy meditation on the nature of taste, which Lynes believed had supplanted class as the new social hierarchy. Taste, Lynes argues, can be broken into three categories: Highbrow, Middlebrow and Lowbrow. Naturally the theory applies to clothing. A supplementary chart in


If You’re Called Joe College, You’re Dressed Pretty Well

Frequent comment-leaver “Caustic Man” alerted me to this short video from the ’50s that serves as a nice follow-up to our last Joe College post. In it a group of high schoolers are asked about clothing, and one kids says how they try to ape the college boys. That may still go on today, though when


Give Ivy

In the spirit of Japanese photo book “Take Ivy,” here are some photographic gifts of Princeton students courtesy of Time/LIFE.